The Senate agreed to provide $100 million for immigration policing efforts by Texas border sheriffs and other local law enforcement agencies yesterday—more than doubling the money currently available to local law enforcement for immigration purposes.
The amendment by Sen. John Cornyn, which was hammered out by a dozen senators from both parties in conjunction with the Bush Administration, would provide most of the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants a path to legal status, increase border security, create a guest worker program, and focus on bringing in highly skilled legal immigrants.
Cornyn's amendment increases a new grant program for law enforcement within 100 miles of the borders. Agencies would be eligible to apply for funds slated for the immigration effort, which would help defray the agencies' equipment, personnel, and operations costs.
"That would help tremendously," Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez says. According to The Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau, the sheriffs had lobbied for $100 million for agencies within 25 miles of the border, and Gonzalez said that as the legislation moves through Congress his group hopes to limit the funding to law enforcement agencies closest to the border.
Another Cornyn amendment slated for a vote soon is becoming an obstacle for the coalition that is trying to keep the fragile immigration bill from unraveling. The measure would deny legalization to 635,000 illegal immigrants who have ignored deportation orders as well as to those convicted of terrorism and gang crimes, felony drunk driving offenses, and other aggravated felonies.